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Is fox hunting a

Sport?

Lamping is a loose term that covers a number of different activities. However, they all take place at night and they all result in the murder of wildlife in the British countryside.

In June 2022 it was announced that a new body would take over the responsibility of governing hunts across the country, known as the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA). According to The Hunting Office, “The BHSA will be responsible for setting the standards and rules to which all members and recognised hunts must adhere and will focus on standards, viability and sustainability.  A separate Regulatory Authority – the Hound Sports Regulatory Authority (HSRA) – will administer all regulation and disciplinary matters for members and member hunts, in accordance with the rules set by the BHSA.”

But can the pastime of fox hunting be considered a ‘sport’? 

In the words of Oscar Wilde, fox hunting is “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable” and we couldn’t agree more. Whilst foxhunting has been labelled a sport for many centuries – there is nothing remotely sporting about the barbaric ordeal of chasing and ripping apart a terrified animal. Indeed, for something to be considered a sport there needs to be an element of competition, some degree of level playing field between each party, and both sides should know that they’re in the game. This couldn’t be further from the case when it comes to hunting.

It’s often 30 against one and the odds are always stacked in favour of those on horseback. So why then is the notion of sport so closely associated to the pastime of chasing and killing wild mammals? The answer is that the origins of fox hunting date back to an era where sport often involved the use and abuse of animals for entertainment. The spectacle of watching an animal writhe in agony was common place whether it be in the form of dog fighting or bear baiting and thus the idea of chasing a wild mammal across the countryside fit nicely into the now antiquated definition of sport.

In recent years since fox hunting was made illegal in 2004, the pastime has only been looked down upon more and what was once a socially accepted tradition has become one in which opposition is at an all-time high. An Ipsos MORI poll in 2016 revealed that the hunting ban is supported by 84% of voters, and this number reflects the public’s growing distain for an activity that puts animal cruelty centre stage.

Of course in defence of their so-called sport, hunts have continued to claim that they in fact follow artificial trails as opposed to live mammals, even in spite of a recently leaked webinar of senior hunting officials admitting that trail hunting is nothing but a “smokescreen” for the real thing. The truth is that whilst fox hunting may have once been considered a sport by society at large, it never really was by the true understanding of the term. It is but a one-sided game carried out by those fuelled by bloodlust. A game enjoyed by those who feel powerful in dictating the final minutes of a small defenceless creature.

To those seeing this who still enjoy the thrill of watching an animal ripped to pieces by hounds, what’s stopping from you picking up a real sport? What’s stopping you from playing against someone who chooses to participate? It’s the 21st century, it’s long time that this cruel and barbaric activity is consigned to the history books where it belongs.